Summer Research Experiences: Marine Biology in Woods Hole

On August 27, 2013 by Grad Forum

woods_hole_thumbnail_2As the summer comes to a close, the Graduate Forum has invited students who did research out of town this summer to reflect on their experiences. Below Andrew Bridges and Molly McQuilken, PhD students in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Program (MCB), describe their time doing research at Woods Hole in Massachusetts.

Each year, graduate students in Professor Amy Gladfelter’s lab pack supplies and equipment and drive to Cape Cod for summer research at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole. The one of a kind research community at MBL lures respected scientists and students from around the world.

At Woods Hole, researchers and students establish summer laboratories or participate in courses that provide unique opportunities for collaboration with some of the brightest minds from various scientific fields. With this cooperative environment comes the opportunity to use groundbreaking instruments developed at MBL for imaging living cells not readily available anywhere else in the world. MBL has been the site of many discoveries that have led to Nobel Prizes and cures for human diseases. Working at MBL during the summer allows students to progress in their individual research projects, and more importantly, to grow as young scientists and establish relationships with collaborators and friends that will benefit their careers.

Gladfelter’s lab, which studies proteins called septins that are essential for cell division, has been traveling to Woods Hole for five consecutive summers. Andrew Bridges, a second year in the MCB Program, has worked at MBL for two summers. “The instruments in Woods Hole allow us to pinpoint the location of individual protein molecules in living cells over time,” he explained. Attending for a second consecutive summer has allowed him to work with collaborators from the previous summer, establish new relationships with scientists working on similar problems in cell biology, and allowed him to access new types of microscopes to assist in his work. “Aside from the benefits to my research project,” Bridges states, “Woods Hole offers so much more. Meeting people and becoming friends with scientists at all stages of their careers is essential for a young scientist’s future. Many of these people could be our future bosses or colleagues.”

Molly McQuilken, a first year in the MCB program, experienced the benefits of the MBL community for the first time this summer. Working at MBL this summer not only allowed her to work one-on-one with her thesis work collaborators, but she was able to work with a microscope recently developed by a physicist from the Rockefeller University. According to McQuilken, “In Woods Hole we fully immerse ourselves in science. We live with scientists, eat with scientists, and socialize with scientists. The rewards of such an experience are immense.”

Both Bridges and McQuilken hope to spend much of their time as graduate students (and after their education) at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.

by Andrew Bridges and Molly McQuilken

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